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sirbrokensword

Can Age of Sigmar 2 be a competitive game?

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So, I'm considering starting AoS2.  My friends are enjoying it, but I see some large balance problems right away, and GW drove me away from their systems a decade ago with the balance issues.  I play wargames competitively, and I don't mind playing other games (board, etc.) for funsies, but I'f im investing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of painting time, I want to have a competitive experience.   Does AoS2 provide that as an option?  What factions are on top any why?  Is shooting or magic dominant? etc..

 

I don't need perfect balance, but I'm very concerned with what I've seen so far in the 3 games Ive watched, skeleton hordes with 5 attacks each, deepkin eels with crazy attacks, etc.  

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The new edition just released.  Nobody can definitively answer this question right now.

But historically GW games have always been pretty poor for balance.  They have never written their games primarily for a tournament or highly competitive environment.  There is still a competitive scene for their primary games, but catering specifically to that niche has never really seemed to be GWs main goal.

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Here is my only comment:  would you rate a game as competitive if, as new factions are released and updated and the meta-game shifts and moves about, the same players continually emerge at the top of the competitive scene?  That's what AoS has traditionally experienced, and I don't see anything in the new edition that would be likely to upset that.  Good players will find a way to win.

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Yes, that's a part of it, skill needs to matter. I come from warmachien which has a super fluid meta, there are balance changes every three months or so. I don't mind changes. I just want to play a game that's more than lucky dice rolls.

 

Is there a Aos tournament scene? are there places to discuss winners and lists and the like?

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The competitive scene is, in my opinion, drastically narrow now. Now, I haven't seen the new SCE rules, and SCE has traditionally been a solid pick, so I am unsure about them, but the competitive armies are going to be, in my opinion, Nurgle, Seraphon, Sylvaneth. Then tzeentch and Khorne and Legions of Nagash. And then no one else. There's a bit of flex for DoK and Idoneth, but Idoneth are in a very weird place right now in regards to their warscrolls.

 

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There is a lot of competitive tournaments where people will do their best to bring the more Over Powered stuff before GW realized how OP they are and nerf them (NB : GW is not really good at it...). Lot's of content on TGA but maybe easier to find on site like this one  : https://aosshorts.com/category/age-of-sigmar-strategy-tactics-articles/

For exemple https://aosshorts.com/lgt-aos-championship-top-lists-and-results/

Edited by christophe
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2 hours ago, stratigo said:

The competitive scene is, in my opinion, drastically narrow now. Now, I haven't seen the new SCE rules, and SCE has traditionally been a solid pick, so I am unsure about them, but the competitive armies are going to be, in my opinion, Nurgle, Seraphon, Sylvaneth. Then tzeentch and Khorne and Legions of Nagash. And then no one else. There's a bit of flex for DoK and Idoneth, but Idoneth are in a very weird place right now in regards to their warscrolls.

 

What makes you say seraphon? I actually have an old lizardmen army so I might just tool around with them until I figure the game out.

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3 hours ago, sirbrokensword said:

What makes you say seraphon? I actually have an old lizardmen army so I might just tool around with them until I figure the game out.

They have strong wizards in a new edition that seems to favor spell casting.  In addition, they have a fair bit of summoning and the summoning rules have just been heavily overhauled for factions with that ability.

Theg do look strong, but I think it is still too early to determine where all the factions will land in the new edition.  That said, Lizardmen look like they will fare rather well.

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8 hours ago, sirbrokensword said:

So, I'm considering starting AoS2.  My friends are enjoying it, but I see some large balance problems right away, and GW drove me away from their systems a decade ago with the balance issues.  I play wargames competitively, and I don't mind playing other games (board, etc.) for funsies, but I'f im investing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of painting time, I want to have a competitive experience.   Does AoS2 provide that as an option?  What factions are on top any why?  Is shooting or magic dominant? etc..

I don't need perfect balance, but I'm very concerned with what I've seen so far in the 3 games Ive watched, skeleton hordes with 5 attacks each, deepkin eels with crazy attacks, etc.  

"Can AoS2 be a competitive game?"

Yep.

At the end of AoS1, it was in a reasonably strong place in the global tournament scene. The number of different, competitively viable lists was pretty sizable in the ecosystem. A number of problems did exist, and the space of tier 2 competitive lists certainly could've been larger, but on the whole, things were positive.

AoS2 added a number of new elements and changed quite a few existing ones. It's going to have kinks for a while, but I'm pretty confident the direction of the company and the quality of the AoS community will result, with some patience, in an even stronger overall ecosystem than AoS1, in terms of the space of competitively viable lists. 

Edited by scrubyandwells
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7 hours ago, sirbrokensword said:

What makes you say seraphon? I actually have an old lizardmen army so I might just tool around with them until I figure the game out.

Seraphon have a combination of special rules that make them do everything at once. They're a teleporting magic-heavy anti-magic summoning machine with tanky shooty high mobility units and cheap hordes, and some crazy good cheap battalions to boot. Everything this edition focuses on is right up their alley.

Also home to possibly the biggest cheese/rule of 1 breaking units Lord Kroak and Ripperdactyls.

I think someone on the team wants them to be super cool and kinda went overboard, especially since other "old" factions don't get nearly this much love.

As for the main question, I think AoS2 can be a competitive game but it sure as hell isn't made for it. Competitive AoS has always been very extreme and based around breaking game mechanics. The game truly shines when you play with a more casual fun approach. If both players just take a bunch of cool looking models without listbuilding too much games are often super close.

Edited by Sedraxis
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I don't think the question is good one. Can it be a competitive game? I mean any game can be competitive if people want to compete at it. 

Is the game suited to be a competitive one? Honestly i think the answer is no. The balance between battletomes let alone non battle tome armies isn't fantastic, the curve isn't so out of whack but there are certainly armies I'd "expect" to win events and some I wouldn't expect to end in the top half. Then you add just how random the game is, the sheer amount of dice you roll etc. 

All that said, people play and enjoy it as a competitive game there is a healthy competitive scene behind it so it's certainly a game you can play and compete in. 

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If you're after a game that isn't about lucky dice rolls, AoS may not be your thing. Turn order is decided by a lucky dice roll, and that can seriously change the game without you having much say.

It is a great competitive game, but said games aren't as predictable as 40k, for example, or any IGYG system. There have been numerous competitive games where I have been failed by my turn priority roll and it's given my opponent time to recover the game. Random charge range, all that good stuff. A lot of it is unpredictable dice rolls.

As far as wargames go, AoS can get pretty crazy. Kings of War I found was a much better straight up tournament game, but it's AoS' nuttiness that makes me like it so much.

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Is it competitive? Yes.

Is it balanced? No.

When you compare it to a videogame like say, League of Legends, which logs millions of player hours every day, there will never be enough data aside from gut feeling to make definitive balancing moves.

That said, there is usually a tier list of armies from most to least competitive, and Games Workshop are far more 'activist' now with regard to patching the game and making rules tweaks.

The first AoS2 tournaments haven't even been played yet, and when they have we are likely to see a few balance changes for obviously broken ******. The main suspect at the moment is the quadruple Engine of the Gods list where each has a 45% chance of summoning 20 skinks per turn. 

So I'd respectfully disagree with commenters saying this or that army will be strong for the coming edition. See how the first few tournaments shake out and we will see a new pecking order, likely solidifying after GW clear up the most egregious rules exploits that come with the start of a new edition.

Also because there is a 'hardware' component to the game - you are buying, painting and building an army - you can't just 'reroll' instantly.

In terms of how tournaments work you generally have between 20-60 people for small-medium sized tournaments, with the most competitive people at the 'top tables'.

These guys will smash you if you haven't got much experience, and can occasionally be ******. But that's just people and most of them are nice.

 

Once you've been at the top tables a few times you get into the groove a bit. The main difference between them and you is that they will likely build and play several armies in a year. Most of us will only play 1-2 at most, especially to a standard where we feel fully comfortable with that army.

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I think it can be played competitively but it's not really built to be a competitive game - if I want a fun mess around I'll play AoS while if I want a hardcore competitive game I'd go for Corvus Belli's Infinity. 

The difference is stark. 

I play and enjoy both but the difference in how tight balance is is night and day. 

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16 hours ago, sirbrokensword said:

Yes, that's a part of it, skill needs to matter. I come from warmachien which has a super fluid meta, there are balance changes every three months or so. I don't mind changes. I just want to play a game that's more than lucky dice rolls.

 

Is there a Aos tournament scene? are there places to discuss winners and lists and the like?

 

If you're coming from WM, your head is going to explode with AoS. WM has concise , neatly written mechanics that work, AoS is mostly a patch work where abilities that are similar sometimes behave the same , sometimes don't.

The double turn is still the epitome of "Lucky Roll".

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AoS balances in the hands of the players.  This happens when they build the best possible army given the current state of the competitive game.  Exactly like how Magic the Gathering is balanced by players bringing the best possible deck to an event.

What this means though is that the majority of game content is swept aside for those doing competitive play.  A minority of the available game scenarios will be used, a minority of units will be viable, a minority of artefacts and allegiance abilities.  As well as a minority of the possible combinations of all these elements.

For some, this laser focus on a subset of the game (and the constant evaluation of what belongs in the subset) is where they find enjoyment.  For others, losing a majority of the available game content makes for an impoverished experience.  Just like how a Magic player might have a favorite card, if it's not good enough it gets left out of the game.  Some people watch their favorite units sit in a shelf for an entire edition of the game.

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Yes only the difference is that MtG does not have things mono white players. the balance is not in your hands, if your faction or even grand alliance is just plain weaker then what the rest of the field can play. We don't have data from 2ed tournament yet, but it realy doesn't take much to notice that destruction did not work well the last few months or maybe even year. There development of the subset is also much harder then with something like AoS. If someone spends those 700-800$ on an army they do want to play with it, and it is really hard to convince them to go out and buy 200-300$ of stuff just so someone else can have fun games. It is one thing to "live" without dragons, or angles or goblins in MtG for a year, comparing to havign a 800$ army that is not worth taking out of the box.

There is a reason, why matched play is the go to format for people around the world, and  why open and narrative which are technicly part of the rule set too, are no where near as popular.

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37 minutes ago, Karol said:

If someone spends those 700-800$ on an army they do want to play with it, and it is really hard to convince them to go out and buy 200-300$ of stuff just so someone else can have fun games. It is one thing to "live" without dragons, or angles or goblins in MtG for a year, comparing to havign a 800$ army that is not worth taking out of the box.

So accept this or not.  The reality of the situation is that your army might not be good enough after the next battle tome comes out.  That's what you are signing up for when you play competitively.  If it doesn't work for you, then don't do it.

Quote

There is a reason, why matched play is the go to format for people around the world, and  why open and narrative which are technicly part of the rule set too, are no where near as popular.



If we look at GW's sales numbers and then total up all the people who show up at various stores and events, we'll find a total mismatch.  The tournament regulars local to me simply do not buy enough to keep two independant stockists and a GW store open year after year.  Matched play is simply the most visible format.  And it dominates online discussion because it is the language of the game when dealing with people you don't know.  I think the vast majority of GW's customers never play a stranger.  They play friends at home.  I know in the past you've insisted it's different in your country, but we've also heard from others in Poland who paint a very different picture.

If it was true that matched play was the go to format to the degree people on the internet think it is, GW would stop putting the time and capital into so much non-matched play content.  They wouldn't print Open War cards for the launch of 40k if no one bought them for AoS.  They wouldn't make sure the next GHB has as much or more Open and Narrative content.  And they wouldn't have the background and art sections of the core rules, malign sorcery and pretty much every battle tome be larger than the rules section.  They also wouldn't spend the majority of their time talking about non-matched play topics on the Stormcast podcast if they thought no one would be interested.   All of this stuff costs them an enormous amount of money to produce and they wouldn't do anything that didn't provide a demonstrable return on capital.

If you want it to be that your army is always viable in cutthroat competitive circles, then you're going to be disappointed.  Things shift.  What's good today won't be good this time next year.  It may not even stay good with the drop of the next supplement or battle tome.

Accept it or not.  It's not going to change.  The approach is working for GW and they have no reason to change it.

Edited by Nin Win
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Games Workshop games, and in fact all wargames, will never be truly competitive. Game balance is too hard for humans, and GW are not that good at it. Dice are fickle. Games take too much time for events to have the number of rounds that they should have to determine a clear winner.

None of these things will stop us from playing and enjoying tournaments, nor from trying to win them and be the best player around! But we also have to accept the reality of how ultimately silly "competitive games workshop games" is as a concept.

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I think the game works just fine as a competitive experience using just the GHB for points and scenarios.  Of course there is some imbalance but that is just the way the competitive cookie crumbles.  I think the system works even better as a narrative game with all the bolt on options like realm rules, sieges, skirmish, path to glory, etc....  I have played and enjoyed both very much from the beginning all the way through the first ghb and beyond.  I  always find it curious that people fall so hard on either side of the narrative/competitive divide.  Why?  If I have time to rock up to a table full of awesome minis and roll dice, it's a good day :)  I get that for a pick up game knowing which one to expect is potentially an issue but for organized events you know this going in. 

One thing I am waiting to see  is if big events use the realm rules.  They are imho not suited to a competitive event if that is what you are looking for, but are a gold mine for narrative play.  Like I said I enjoy both, but since all the realm spells and artifacts are only available in a $75 supplement I don't know if it is a great idea for the GT scene to adopt it as standard.  Plus the amount of potential OP stuff just goes through the roof once every wizard has access to multiple spell lores and hundreds of magic items, looking at you ethereal amulet and banishment.  If you are going to a narrative event this stuff might not matter to you, at a competitive GT those random realm effects are going to possibly be a big issue. I don't know, just thinking out loud.  Either way I am excited to get some games in, no matter what kind!

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3 hours ago, HorseOnABeachBall said:

If you're coming from WM, your head is going to explode with AoS. WM has concise , neatly written mechanics that work, AoS is mostly a patch work where abilities that are similar sometimes behave the same , sometimes don't.

The double turn is still the epitome of "Lucky Roll".

QFT!

4 hours ago, MrZakalwe said:

I think it can be played competitively but it's not really built to be a competitive game - if I want a fun mess around I'll play AoS while if I want a hardcore competitive game I'd go for Corvus Belli's Infinity. 

The difference is stark. 

I play and enjoy both but the difference in how tight balance is is night and day. 

Combo for me is Age of Sigmar for light local pickup games, Kings of War for travel and tournament play. If you haven't looked into KOW yet, and like the old ranks-n-flanks of Warhammer, I can't recommend it enough. So refreshing to play a game with both external and internal balance among factions, something GW has always struggled with (particularly internal balance - i.e. all units are valid, composition isn't driven by Obviously Good Things alone).

I think it's a bit of a fool's errand to treat AOS like a balanced competitive game, as it wasn't designed to be one and starts to crumble when exposed to the stresses of competition. But obviously there are plenty of events that people have fun at, and as with all wargaming events you'll get the most out of them if you manage your expectations. Personally I don't go to tournaments to win, but to play a bunch of games, have some drinks, see some pretty painted models and hang out with friends I only see a few times a year. I'm certain AOS can do that for you, if that's what you want. If it's tight competition, an engaging army design process or a feeling of having proven your strategic rigor in tactical combat ... I'm less certain AOS has that in store at the highest levels.

Edited by Boss Salvage
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2 hours ago, Nin Win said:

So accept this or not.  The reality of the situation is that your army might not be good enough after the next battle tome comes out.  That's what you are signing up for when you play competitively.  If it doesn't work for you, then don't do it.

If we look at GW's sales numbers and then total up all the people who show up at various stores and events, we'll find a total mismatch.  The tournament regulars local to me simply do not buy enough to keep two independant stockists and a GW store open year after year.  Matched play is simply the most visible format.  And it dominates online discussion because it is the language of the game when dealing with people you don't know.  I think the vast majority of GW's customers never play a stranger.  They play friends at home.  I know in the past you've insisted it's different in your country, but we've also heard from others in Poland who paint a very different picture.

If it was true that matched play was the go to format to the degree people on the internet think it is, GW would stop putting the time and capital into so much non-matched play content.  They wouldn't print Open War cards for the launch of 40k if no one bought them for AoS.  They wouldn't make sure the next GHB has as much or more Open and Narrative content.  And they wouldn't have the background and art sections of the core rules, malign sorcery and pretty much every battle tome be larger than the rules section.  They also wouldn't spend the majority of their time talking about non-matched play topics on the Stormcast podcast if they thought no one would be interested.   All of this stuff costs them an enormous amount of money to produce and they wouldn't do anything that didn't provide a demonstrable return on capital.

If you want it to be that your army is always viable in cutthroat competitive circles, then you're going to be disappointed.  Things shift.  What's good today won't be good this time next year.  It may not even stay good with the drop of the next supplement or battle tome.

Accept it or not.  It's not going to change.  The approach is working for GW and they have no reason to change it.

Most people play matched play. Even when they don't play matched play missions, they play matched play points. It is very rare for a person playing a game to play without some kind of balancing mechanic. People trend towards feeling comfortable when things seem more fair to them. Whether they are really more fair isn't particularly important, but the appearance of a kind of balance is important for, I would say, 90 percent of people alive, much less the percentage of people who willingly play a war game.

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The most important thing about matched play points is they provide a frame work for people to get a game on the table.  They're really, really good for that.

I think most people play a blended way to play built on the foundation of matched play points.  I think it's very rare for the open and narrative people to go "pure" as even organized narrative events use points as a means of getting everyone to bring the right amount of models.  Matched play points + Open War cards is probably what I do the most often.  I don't remember the last time I played a matched play battle plan though.  And very rarely are we playing the same number of points per side as we like the ruses and sudden death cards and those are based on unequal points/wounds or whatever.  Also  we don't necessarily require battle line or limit heroes or artillery or other such matched play limits.  

Hybrid ways to play are awesome.

They are however, not competitive play.  For competitive play for Age of Sigmar, the competition starts with analysis of the current cross-faction situation to figure out what you likely might face, the scenarios you are likely to play and after that, list design that both takes all that into consideration as well as identifying the most efficient and synergistic items in the allegiance you have selected.

Can AoS2 be a competitive game?  Yes.  It is.  But only if you don't require universal viability of units, allegiances, battalions and so forth.  Nor that things will stay viable over any given period of time.

Edited by Nin Win
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But coming from a Warmachine background as the OP is that's nothing new. Somethings are tournament viable in that game some are not.  The meta is shifting constantly on what's good meaning something else that was good is now bad.  

That's not unusual for miniature games in general.   Try Xwing competitively for say six months and see if you can field anything you bought month 1 in month 6 (including of course card upgrades as changes) 

If you want a game designed to be highly competitive trial Shadespire.  If you want a game with a carefully crafted rules set to reach pre specified levels of balance  a great international database of player rankings and a stable meta try Blood Bowl (thanks to online play the BB rule book had serial tweaks to try and get teams to prescpecified win rates some are designed to win more then others. The NAF organization provides head to head/per team matchup rating data for member players.) 

But they are all miniature games with dice mechanics .  Dice mechanics by definition means swingy things are designed to happen.  That may  mean a good player may lose to a bad player based on the dice.   It's not chess where there is almost no luck (White vs Black first turn is the only 'dice roll') dice make a game less predictable in that sense 

But if you want a game to be fun, competitive, and be highly rewarding AoS is a great place to be.     

 

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I think some people equate balance with universal competitive viability.  If the former is what you seek, AoS is quite balanced.  Many different factions and list compositions make regular appearances in the top ten at the largest tournaments and even the most dominant lists only have a slight edge over the other to tier lists.  If the latter is what you seek, I've got no advice.  

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